Fool me Once, Shame on You. Fool me Eight Times…
I didn’t know how I was going to start this blog today. I didn’t want to jump right into the Caps and how flawed they are, and THEN the Oilers/Ducks game happened! Wow!
On one hand, thank you NHL because you made this opening rant easy as F***! On the other hand, it’s getting exhausting ranting about how disgusting NHL officiating has become. I don’t recall a game where a team literally scored three illegal/blown call type goals. Don’t get me wrong, the Oilers aren’t without blame here. They got themselves into this mess by letting their collective foot off the gas to start that second period last night, but you can’t deny that the awful officiating crew cost them that game. The NHL wants to talk about Perry’s foot on the first goal but that wasn’t the issue. Talbot’s blocker was caught on Perry’s ass and that’s exactly where Talbot got beat. Having no ability to review then cost the second goal, and of course the OT goal was a total cluster f*** by the linesmen which also caused the one ref to get in Larsson’s way, it’s unbelievable. The Ducks, who I picked to win the Cup and in total fairness have been the better team in the series, now have by my count five goals now in the playoffs that the officiating crew have completely butchered. This cannot keep up. The NHL needs to wake the f*** up (lot of F bombs today, I apologize) and take an actual serious look at how their game is officiated top to bottom. The old boys who want to tell you that “the refs don’t cost you the games” and just try to brush it off as an excuse are starting to get drowned out by fans and new aged media who are taking notice that refs are absolutely costing teams games. I’ve harped on it for years now, and it is not in anyway an Oilers thing. It’s a league wide issue and I along with many others have had enough of it.
Case in point…the first humiliating call made last night was late in the Pittsburgh/Washington game on T.J. Oshie…
So why don’t we all notice that the Washington Capitals are not a good hockey team? Why do we miss all the flaws the Caps have? Why do we constantly blame Alex Ovechkin for a problem that his GM’s have failed to recognize throughout his tenure with the Caps?
I’ve hammered on this for years now. The Caps do not have a 1st line centre. Nicklas Backstrom is fine. He’s ok in his own zone, but he’s nothing great. He isn’t locking down anyone’s 1st line centre. He’s a real good playmaker, but let’s not kid anyone. Playing with the games top sniper his entire career has made a major impact on his numbers. I laugh at how Backstrom gets a total pass on his playoff performance. His career playoff PPG number is the exact same as “playoff choker” Joe Thornton (0.77 PPG). Numbers are far from everything, but when you aren’t putting up big numbers as a 1st line centre then you better be a great two way player, and he is not.
Then as their 2nd line centre the Caps run out Evgeny Kuznetsov who can’t play away from the puck. Evgeni Malkin was kind of that guy for the Penguins too in 2009, but Malkin was so offensively gifted that he would (and from the 2nd round on, did) torch you if you were sloppy with your matchups as an opposing coach. Kuznetsov is real good, but I don’t think he worries opposing coaching staffs.
So just to start, your 1st line centre should be your 2nd line centre, and your 2nd line centre should be playing the wing. You can make up for that though if you have a great blueline…
Do they have an elite number one defenceman? I’ll make this easy for you…nope. John Carlson, very good, but he’s never moved past being a very good top four guy. Combined with Karl Alzner, it’s a top pair, but if you don’t have an elite 1st line centre then you damn well better have that elite number one defenceman and they simply don’t. Kevin Shattenkirk was a nice add, but Shattenkirk was sheltered in Ken Hitchcock’s system for years and he’s simply not good in his own zone…which is what they really needed.
Then you look at the overall makeup of the team, and it’s just as flawed.
They’re a big team. Nothing wrong with that. If I were a GM I’d make sure the team has a lot of size. But while they’re big, they aren’t fast. And while they’re big, they aren’t bruising, so they aren’t a team that is going to wear anyone down, which is the main reason you want to form a big team! Big teams historically win in the playoffs because they wear down the teams they play. So in a league in which the speed seems to have really increased over the last two seasons in particular, they’ve gotten slower, and they utilize their size advantage near enough.
And when have they ever made an effort to get some leaders in this room? George McPhee did it once with Sergei Fedorov, and the Caps seemed to play a lot better in big moments when they had a guy like Fedorov in their room. 2009 they came back from 3-1 down against the Rangers, won game six in Pittsburgh facing elimination, they were good. Fedorov left after that season, and I can’t recall when the Caps ever went out and got a guy who’d be considered a leader again.
But it’s all Ovechkin. All you’ll hear about is how Ovechkin can’t win. I am going to rip out all of my hair over this, even the body hair and I’ve got a lot of body hair if I let it get away from me! (TMI?) The media just loves the easy narrative and the easy narrative is to blame Ovechkin and that is such a crock of shit. And don’t get me wrong, last night he was terrible. He said as much after the game. But name the big name Caps player who was good. This is far from all Ovechkin. Look at the Oilers in these playoffs. McDavid has been shutdown a lot of the time and they continually have guys stepping up. It’s not like I believe Ovechkin is blameless in all this. He has not done enough to improve his 200 foot game over the years. But the lazy narrative is to point the finger at Ovechkin gets so old and to me makes it look like you don’t know hockey.
I’ve always said the Crosby v Ovechkin comparison is absurd. If you can’t figure out that Ovechkin is the best SNIPER and not the best PLAYER all these years, then you’re an idiot. I don’t know what else to tell you. People covering MLB don’t claim that Mark Trumbo is better than Mike Trout. NFL guys aren’t telling you that Julio Jones is better than Aaron Rodgers. Yet the majority of people who cover the NHL have tried telling you for years that Ovechkin is better than Crosby. If Ovechkin ever at any point had Crosby’s overall game, he’d play centre. The reason just about all of these one dimensional players play the wing is because they don’t have a well rounded game. For some reason, this is completely lost on the media, and even some people in the league (look at some of the mistakes in the draft over the years).
Then they make Ovechkin out to be the Alex Rodriguez of the NHL. A-Rod literally couldn’t hit during the MLB postseason. Ovechkin has 89 points in 94 playoff games, a breakout game away from being a PPG guy. Five points off. Patrick Kane for example, is three points off that pace during his career in the playoffs. Does Ovechkin have Toews or Keith to play with? No, he has a media perceived 1st line centre, and a media perceived number one D-man.
Ovechkin is up there with Mike Bossy and Brett Hull as three of the greatest snipers of all time. Bossy has four Cups. He also had Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin and Billy Smith. Hull was in the exact same situation in St. Louis as Ovechkin is. Hull goes to Dallas where he has Mike Modano, Sergei Zubov and Ed Belfour…shocker. He wins a Cup.
I liked the Leafs to give the Caps fits in the first round, and while I knew the Leafs had a speed advantage, I wasn’t sure it would matter much or that it was as big of a gap as I’d thought. But it became clear to me early on in that series.
So the autopsy finds that we have a second line centre pretending to be a first line centre, a top six winger pretending to be a second line centre, a number two defenceman trying to be a number one, a number three defenceman trying to be a number two, no leadership in the room and no speed in a league that’s become noticeably quicker in the last three seasons.
Last night, they got royally screwed on that completely bogus high stick call and it’s disgusting that the league doesn’t ACTUALLY look to crack down on dives (give them a game suspension and save your “that’s far too harsh” BS because if they’re getting an automatic suspension for a dive then guess what players are going to quit doing) but you had no Sidney Crosby and you’re facing a 3-1 deficit and you give that piss poor of an effort? I knew this was coming again this season, knew the Pens would knock them off, and yet I’m still just so sick of it all.
I’m sick of the media beating the piss out of Ovechkin when he’s doing his part, I’m sick of them not noticing all the flaws the Caps have as a team, and I’m sick of them continually believing that this Caps team should be better than they are just because they dominate in the regular season. They’re like Nail Yakupov. Had enough speed and talent to dominate junior, but can’t do shit in the pros. The Caps have enough speed and talent to dominate the regular season, but can’t do shit in the playoffs.
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